Golf in 2019: Seven memorable gaffes resulting in penalties
Last Updated: 27/12/19 5:55am
The last year has seen a number of notable penalties and disqualifications dished out in the world of golf, some bizarre and some controversial.
We take a look at some of the more notable punishments for players in 2019…..
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Eddie peppers the water
Eddie Pepperell was disqualified from the Turkish Airlines Open in November after running out of balls during the third round.
The Englishman suffered an embarrassing exit at the European Tour's Rolex Series event after he failed to complete the fourth hole, his 13th of the day.
Pepperell was two over par for the round after back-to-back birdies at the second and third, when he struck his approach to the fourth into the water surrounding the green.
The 28-year-old then had several more attempts at locating the green, losing "four or five balls" according to playing partner Martin Kaymer, who described the incident as being like a scene from the film 'Tin Cup'.
"Eddie hit his shots to the green, then came over to tell us he had run out of balls," Kaymer said. "He was quick, so it was hard to keep track. He did not ask if he could borrow one. It did not look like he wanted to play."
Massive penalty for Walker
Lee Ann Walker hit the headlines at the Senior LPGA Championship in Indiana in October after she was hit with an astonishing 58-shot penalty following her second round.
Walker's opening 85 was adjusted to a 127 after she incurred a 42-stroke penalty, while 16 shots were added to her second round to give her a 36-hole score of 73 over par.
Walker fell foul of the rule that bans caddies helping their players with alignment and it transpired that Walker's caddie was helping her line up putts on every green. So she incurred a two-shot penalty for each time she breached the rule that came into effect at the start of the year.
"This was my first competitive round since 2011 or 2012," said Walker. "Now that I don't play the LPGA anymore, I don't watch golf. I knew there were rules changes, but I just honestly didn't know them. It's my stupidity for not going over the rules changes."
Li suffers in Dubai
This rule first hit the headlines at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January when Haotong Li was given a two-shot penalty.
Li, playing in the final group alongside runaway winner Bryson DeChambeau, was lining up a short putt for birdie on the 72nd green with his caddie standing behind him.
The defending champion's caddie, Mike Burrow, moved away just as Li began to take his stance, and he rolled in the putt for what he thought was his 71st and final shot of the day, earning him a share of third place on 16 under par.
But European Tour officials found Li in breach of the new ruling that prevented caddies from helping their players with alignment, and the birdie-four was changed to a bogey-six shortly after the close of play, dropping him outside the top 10 and costing him over €80,000 in prize money.
The ruling did not sit well with many observers, while Denny McCarthy was hit with the same punishment for a similar incident in the second round of the Phoenix Open, but his two-stroke penalty was rescinded a day later after rules officials deemed he had not been taking his stance for a pitch to the green, and he had actually backed away before going through his actual shot process.
The R&A and the USGA revisited the wording of Rule 10.2b(4) as a result and issued a new version of the rule to "give the players more opportunity to avoid a breach".
At the Honda Classic in February, Alex Cejka became the first PGA Tour player to be disqualified under the new rules limiting green-reading books.
The German was using a previous year's version of the green-reading book for PGA National and was disqualified during the opening round as the books are now limited in scale.
PGA Tour rules official Robby Ware said: "Alex was basically using an old yardage book and old greens reading materials that did not fit the size to scale limit.
"He knew he was using an old book. He told me that. I don't know that he was completely understanding of what the scale limits are."
Siem disqualifies himself
Marcel Siem disqualified himself from the Amundi Open de France in October after a bizarre rules mix-up at Le Golf National.
Siem was convinced that preferred lies were in place for the first round due to the soft and damp conditions at the Ryder Cup venue, and he took the opportunity to lift, clean and replace his ball five times over the first nine holes.
But officials then informed the German that preferred lies were not applicable, meaning he had incurred a two-shot penalty for each violation. Siem decided to disqualify himself as a result.
"I played the ball from the wrong place five times and conceded 10 penalty strokes," explained Siem on his Facebook page. "That was a little too much for me and I disqualified myself. I thought I owed you the explanation."
Garcia punished in Saudi Arabia
Sergio Garcia was disqualified for "serious misconduct" at the Saudi International in February.
Garcia damaged a couple of greens in anger during his third-round 71 and prompted complaints from the players behind him, forcing the European Tour to disqualify him under Rule 1.2a.
The Spaniard had escaped unpunished on day two at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club when he vented his frustration in a bunker after needing two attempts to escape the trap due to a poor lie in the sand, but he was removed from the tournament a day later.
Garcia said: "I respect the decision of my disqualification. In frustration, I damaged a couple of greens, for which I apologise for, and I have informed my fellow players it will never happen again."
The 2017 Masters champion was believed to be the first player to be disqualified for serious misconduct during a round on the European Tour since it was established in 1972.
Bunker trouble for Reed
Patrick Reed has been making the headlines in recent weeks after he was given a two-shot penalty after appearing to flatten out sand before a bunker shot during the third round of the Hero World Challenge.
Reed was docked the strokes after twice moving sand while taking a practice swing in a sandy waste area at the 11th hole at Albany Golf Club, which served to marginally improve his lie.
The 2018 Masters champion was deemed to have improved his intended line of play, violating rule 8.1a.
Reed seemed to question whether the penalty was warranted, saying: "After seeing the club go back and brush some sand, they thought that's a breach of the rules."
The television pictures were filmed from behind the ball, while Reed was looking down on it, something he said could lead to different interpretations because of the different angles.
"It's my word against their word. They weren't standing there," he said.
Rules official Slugger White said whether Reed intended to brush the sand or not was irrelevant.
"You could see the path of the sand come away on two different occasions," he said. "He did it the first time, put the club down again and did it another time. Intent would not matter here."